Welcome to my new blog!
As Food Producers we face many challenges, but probably the most challenging aspect of what we do is selling our Produce in a cost effective way. For everyone this is different due to the scale. Smaller Producers are limited in the ways they can offer their product to the Consumer. Consumers now want to be connected directly with the producers of their Food and they need to trust we are producing that Food in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. Ignore that at your own peril as the Consumer is now much more savvy and connected and will choose another product over yours if they are not satisfied you have their best interests at heart.
So, how do you do that you ask? Each and every Producer, not matter what size should have a Website and a Social Media presence. Why you ask? Because Food production is now not just about you, it is about the whole story, it's about educating the Consumer on 'why we do it the way we do it' and that we 'care about what we do'. We are now constantly being scrutinised and under increasing pressure to "prove" our value. With less than 1% of people in Australia now involved directly in the production of Food, not only for Australia, but the World, many people have absolutely no connection to Agricultural production at all. It must be 30 years or more since a study was done of School Children on where Milk came from and the overwhelming response was from 'a Carton'. This now extends to all products and much of the information they receive is compiled by people with a specific agenda, and faced with a lack of credible information from us, they believe it and worse still share it widely. It's the old adage, 'you don't know what you don't know until you learn what you don't know'
I am a producer of Walnuts & Walnut Oil, Avocado's, Fejoa's and Sheep. I have recently been caught up in the Live Sheep Export situation, I must add only minimally compared to the much bigger producers. This is a very good example of only one side of the story being presented. Each and every one of us absolutely without a doubt deplores the footage we saw and the suffering of those animals, and without context it is very easy for consumers to blame us for the situation that unfolded and they did! Add the back story and it starts to be more understandable, add in the failure of the system that let us down and people have a better understanding of how it happened; change the way we deal with incidents like these to be addressed immediately and a focus on transparency and education and we start to rebuild consumers trust. This is not an easy job when you are constantly being reactive, rather than proactive. The first step is to understand we are going to be attacked constantly and not to take that personally, but as an opportunity to engage with the Consumer and educate them. Be proud of what you do and be prepared to have the conversation with your critics. Above all people value honesty and conviction.
As the saying goes 'United we stand, divided we fall'.
I created Food Online Australia out of a realisation that I was one of many small producers trying to get my product noticed and that by having a low cost Directory for Producers makes the job of connecting Producers to Consumers easier and improves the effectiveness of your Website rankings.
Together we can do this!